world : Alcaraz opens title defence with battling win over Lajal

world : Alcaraz opens title defence with battling win over Lajal
world : Alcaraz opens title defence with battling win over Lajal

Monday 1 July 2024 10:32 PM

Nafeza 2 world - Following his deep run at Roland Garros, Alcaraz's preparations for this year's Wimbledon have been limited.

He played just two grass-court matches at Queen's where he suffered a surprise second-round defeat by Britain's Jack Draper.

The Spaniard looked somewhat rusty as Lajal, ranked 269th in the world, surprised the Centre Court crowd when he struck the first blow for a 3-2 lead.

Alcaraz was able to raise his level when it mattered, though, responding immediately with a break of his own before taking control of the tie-break to clinch the opening set.

His frustrations continued in the second set, with Lajal matching the reigning champion's energy with big hitting and crafty drop shots as the pair exchanged early breaks.

But the qualifier's confidence started to falter when Alcaraz broke to go 6-5 up before serving out the set.

There was no looking back for the three-time major winner, who raced through the third set and fired home a fierce forehand winner on his second match point.

Elsewhere, Frances Tiafoe made a remarkable comeback from two sets down to beat Italy's Matteo Arnaldi.

The American 29th seed fought back to win 6-7 (5-7) 2-6 6-1 6-3 6-3 on Court 15.

Russian fifth seed Daniil Medvedev, a semi-finalist last year, cruised past Aleksandar Kovacevic with a 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory.

Norwegian eighth seed Casper Ruud and 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria also reached the second round.

Meanwhile, 2021 runner-up Matteo Berrettini set up a potential meeting with fellow Italian and world number one Jannik Sinner by defeating Marton Fucsovics of Hungary 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 3-6 6-1.

However, Sebastian Baez and Nicolas Jarry became the first seeds to fall in the men's singles, losing to Brandon Nakashima and Denis Shapovalov respectively.

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